Returning Home to the Yukon

Tears streamed down my face as our airplane began its descent, preparing to land at the Whitehorse airport. Passengers glanced over at me and then quickly glanced away. They likely thought I was visiting someone who was seriously ill, or that a loved one had died. It was actually the opposite … I was beyond excited and happy to finally return to the place I call home.

“Sliding Doors”

I wrote a story called “Sliding Doors” (published in the What’s Up Yukon January 16, 2019, issue), where I described how a split-second decision to visit Whitehorse instead of Yellowknife, at the age of 19, changed the course of my life forever. I fell in love with the breathtaking Yukon Territory, one of the most-beautiful places on our planet. And I met and fell in love with my husband.

Three decades later

My husband and I picked up the RV we had rented for the month of September. We were excited to begin our long-anticipated vacation to the place that held such special memories for us. This was to be our first trip back to the beautiful Yukon Territory after 30 years.

Week One

Our first stop was to visit a house on Wood Street. I knew it was still standing (thanks to the magic of the internet and Google Earth). This house was the home we had shared for almost four years. We have many special memories of living there, including the day we were married in the living room.

My husband and I were visibly moved as we walked around the outside of the house. I wanted to ask the owners whether we could take a look inside, yet it appeared that no one was home.

Our next stop was the movie theatre, also on Wood Street. We used to walk to this theatre frequently. I still recall watching Carrie—and my husband jumping out of his chair at a specific scene. Our dog Tanya would sit patiently, waiting outside of the theatre until the movie was finished.

We walked to Main Street and immediately headed to the Scotia Bank, where my husband and I first met. My husband had been transferred here the same month I began my summer job. We continued walking around the downtown core, curious to see what had changed in the past three decades.

Ron Hurry, a talented goldsmith, no longer lived in Whitehorse. He designed and created my engagement ring and our wedding bands. He based those designs on sketches that my husband drew, which were inspired by the Yukon Rose.

We explored many fun and interesting places over the next few days. We hiked along the easily accessible Millennium Trail and were awestruck by the stunning views at Miles Canyon. We toured the S.S. Klondike, learning more about the fascinating history of sternwheelers that ran freight between Whitehorse and Dawson City.

We were impressed by the well-maintained attractions, by the signs with detailed descriptions, and by the thriving community. We ran across helpful, friendly people (a common occurrence during our month in the Yukon).

We ended the first week by soaking in the natural hot-springs at the (then) Takhini Hot Springs Campground. Pure bliss!

Camping Adventures

We were excited to return to some of our favourite camping, hiking and fishing areas, so we headed south to the Tarfu, Snafu and Atlin lakes. We have fond memories of camping there on weekends when we used to live in Whitehorse. We always caught plenty of northern pike, Arctic grayling and lake trout. 

We stopped often to take photos and capture the spectacular, diverse scenery along the way. We saw bears on the side of the road and gave them a wide berth and a great deal of respect as we rolled down our windows for a photo op. Then we headed back north on the Klondike Highway. Our planned route included the Klondike Kluane Loop.

A highlight was staying at Frenchman Lake for two nights. We were the only campers there and experienced the many reasons that we fell in love with the Yukon in the first place—the fresh clean air, crystal-clear lakes and a dramatic display of Autumn colours, spectacular sunsets and the sound of silence.

Over the next few weeks we visited Dawson City’s Midnight Dome, the Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site, the Top of the World Highway, as well as the Kluane National Park and Reserve.

Every day was an adventure … creating new memories and appreciating the incredible beauty of the Yukon wilderness.

Thirty years later and better than I remembered …

I have lived in a number of communities throughout my life, and I have learned that home is wherever I’m with my loved ones. Home is a sanctuary and a feeling of connection with the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.

Thirty years later, I am grateful to return to one of the most-beautiful places on our planet. The magnificent, diverse landscape and picturesque scenery are even better than I remembered from years ago. The priceless gifts of fresh clean air, wide-open spaces and pristine lakes mean more to me now than ever before.

I am sifting through thousands of gorgeous photos that I took during our month-long northern adventure, and I am reflecting on our unforgettable memories. I have the daunting task of selecting a few favourite pictures to include with this story. What the pictures do not show is how the Yukon makes me feel. Breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the goosebump-inducing, stunning scenery and the tranquil sound of silence.

The breathtaking Yukon Territory truly holds a special place in my heart. 

This is the place I call home.

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